By chance, I have met recently several Finnish companies operating in the new but growing cleantech segment of industrial enzymes for biowaste-to-energy applications. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions and that can be used as new materials for renewable energy solutions. The global industrial enzyme market is currently valued at $2bn with an annual growth rate of 3-5%, which is fairly moderate. However, the large M&A transactions increase the attractiveness of this segment. Examples of transactions in this area include, for instance, the buy-out of Indian Biocon’s food industry enzymes unit by Novozymes for $115m in 2007 (story) and also the merger of US-based Celunol and Diversa in 2007 (story).
MetGen, based in Turku, is focusing on enzymatic technologies in industrial processes (meaning simply industrial enzymes) trial to increase energy efficiency in industrial biofuel production. The core customers include the pulp & paper industry, which have realized the potential of creating significant value from the current by-product/waste streams. In Finland and the Nordic countries, several industry leaders have ongoing R&D projects to convert industrial waste or wood waste into energy and cellulosic ethanol. MetGen, still at the development stage, has several interesting R&D projects in the pipeline in this segment. The company develops enzymes useful in areas such as biomass treatment for energy conservation in the pulp & paper industry, and bioethanol production.